Latest statistics show that Batswana are a Facebook people with almost 1 034 600 users and this number which represent 42.7 percent of this country’s population is exposed to many businesses who uses the social network as a medium of marketing and advertising.
But this issue of high numbers using Facebook comes as a double edged sword for the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), limiting the collection of revenues on the cyber space. Companies advertise on Twitter, Instagram and other social media networks and this would affect BURS tax collection. Local economist told WeekendPost that the problem with this country taxation is collection, advising that gathering of taxes should be maximized or prioritized. When reading the national budget recently finance minister Thapelo Matsheka talked of an overall deficit of P1.98 billion, or -1.1 percent of GDP. Matsheka said this negative budget overturn was due to the lower tax collections during the year.
“Efforts will therefore, be intensified to ensure efficiency in the collection of tax revenues by the Botswana Unified Revenue Service through the continuous review of tax laws and leveraging on the use of ICT to enhance compliance,” said Matsheka. BURS director of tax and policy William Nkitseng told attendees at the recent FNBB budget review that business models are changing and going into the digital space, hence the need for the tax regime to evolve. He said businesses are changing from being SMMEs to big digital business model who come with challenges especially taxation issues.
Botswana want to have a digital economy by 2036 and already there has been much evangelism to impart Fourth Industrial Revolution into this nation’s young minds as it is seen as a major tool to being a high income economy. But there is already a challenging facing BURS coming with digital businesses according to Nkitseng, they are not easy to tax. Nkitseng said they wish to tax everyone doing business in Botswana, your Ubers and Netflixes. He gave an example that Uber can own a fleet of taxis from somewhere and someone is Botswana control the fleet, earns a lot of money but not taxed.
Nkitseng said this country’s tax legal framework is limited because tax is withheld looking at physical presence. “We wish to catch these companies….efforts are being made to catch these people, by the end of this year we will know how we can get hold of companies in the digital model. We want your money you make for Google, Netflix/Uber because they make a lot of money here and we don’t tax them,” he said.
Nkitseng and BURS cannot go to Menlo Park, Carlifornia, USA to withhold taxes from Facebook. Netflix is making money in Botswana with a subscription of around P100 per month, but zero tax. By October 2015 Netflix is said to have had 69.17 million subscriber globally and in this five years the number may have doubled.
Botswana has its own Uber now, Hello Cabs which also use the phone app like Ubers’. Uber has a global market value of P720 billion, it generated P120 billion in gross bookings in the most recent quarter. It boast more than 75 million active Uber riders across the world and is available in more than 80 countries worldwide. Nkitseng believes Botswana should also cash from these plaudits via taxation.
He however said the world is aware that digital companies are not paying taxes. It is already a topical issue in the G20 countries’ tops and a highly debated issue. Even regionally, Africa is moving on coming up with inclusive frameworks for the digital economy. But Nkitseng’s concern was not mentioned in the most important announcement of the year which has the government planning period in mind. Matsheka may have missed the taxing of the digital companies, even though Nkitseng said before the end of this year there will have made a plan on how to tax digital businesses. Maybe taxation of the digital economy could have been hidden in the current financial year but not coming out explicitly, it may come out clear during the year in Nkitseng.
Matsheka only said, “To this end, efforts will continue to be made to expand our tax base through review of tax legislation and regulations, to enable the revenue authority to effectively discharge its mandate. It is for this reason that focusing on simplifying the tax legislation continues to be a priority as a way of enhancing tax compliance, while at the same time, reducing the cost of tax administration.”
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.¬† BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC‚Äôs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that ‚Äúthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown‚ÄĚ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that ‚Äúthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC‚Äôs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries‚ÄĚ.
He further stated that through this marathon, ‚Äúwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society‚ÄĚ. ¬†He concluded by stating that ‚ÄúBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large‚ÄĚ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that ‚Äúhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon‚ÄĚ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the ‚ÄúCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities‚ÄĚ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.